the discursive family
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The Discursive Family . /. For Topics/ Credible Evidence . An argumentative essay is one in which you examine and evaluate objectively* opposing viewpoints on a controversial topic.

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An argumentative essay is one in which you examine and evaluate objectively*opposing viewpoints on a controversial topic.

This discussion, which should be conducted in formal and neutral language will require research and evidence taken from other authoritative sources.

You may conclude by supporting one or other of the points of view or you may wish to retain your objectivity, suggesting for instance, that there is still insufficient evidence to decide for or side or the other.

*objective means based on fact.

A persuasive essay is one in which you are trying to convince the reader/examiner to accept your subjective**view on a particular subject.

Here, too, soundly researched evidence is important but so is your ability to balance this with the language of persuasion to win over the reader/ examiner.

No balance of evidence is required as it is an argumentative essay, but it would be intelligent to acknowledge the existence if a contrary view.

** Subjective means based on personal response.

objective versus subjective
“With an approval rating of only 22% according to a CBS News/New Your Tines poll, George W Bush left office as the most unpopular departing president since records began 70 years ago.”

Based on evidence, this comment counts as a legitimate statement to make. This makes it an example of_________ writing.

“Nobody had time for George W. Bush when he left office. He was the worst America president ever.

Based only on an emotion, this comment counts as personal opinion.”

Objective Versus Subjective
what they share

Main body of paragraphs


What they share
Should capture the reader’s attention and interest in your topic.

Should inform the reader about the background to the topic explaining why the subject is important and worthy of attention.

A persuasive will indicate the idea you wish the reader to support.

An argumentative will lay out the two side of the issue.

Introduction may indicate some kind of map of where the essay will go.

openers can be

e.g."It is difficult to see how anyone can approve of fox hunting."


e.g."Fox hunting is a subject about which people hold strongly contrasting views."


e.g."Oscar Wilde once described fox hunting as 'The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.'."


e.g."On a glorious autumn morning a terrified, exhausted animal is savaged to death by a pack of baying dogs while a group of expensively dressed humans encourage the dogs in their bloody work."


e.g."I have always detested fox hunting since I was almost physically sick while watching a television film of the kill at the end of a hunt."

Openers Can be…
body paragraphs
Have your ideas set out in a logical structure, showing a clear line of development, with each step in your discussion/argument being made clear.

Progression from one paragraph to the next should be smoothly signalled by connecting devices.

One main point per paragraph is the most coherent way to advance your case.

Body paragraphs
Introduction in which BOTH viewpoints are set out.

First paragraph with ideas contrary to your final viewpoint.

Subsequent paragraphs with ideas contrary to your viewpoint.

First paragraph with ideas coinciding with your final viewpoint.

Subsequent paragraphs with ideas coinciding with your final viewpoint (keeping best till last)

Conclusion summing up and making stance clear (if you come to one)

Introduction making stance clear.

Acknowledgment yet rejection of alternative viewpoint.

First persuasive paragraph.

Subsequent persuasive paragraphs.


connecting devices
Any well-written piece of discursive writing will flow as one continuous piece despite being made up of three or four different arguments. One of the techniques which can help you to achieve this effectively is the use of linking words. These words are usually used at the beginning of a new paragraph but can also be used to link ideas within a paragraph.

Same line of thought

e.g. - and, firstly, secondly etc., next, furthermore, likewise, in addition, similarly, also, moreover.


e.g. - thus, therefore, consequently, accordingly, in retrospect, hence, in conclusion, in brief, as a result.

Definite statement

e.g. - without question, without doubt, unquestionably, absolutely.

Contrasting idea

e.g. - yet, on the other hand, nevertheless, however, although, conversely, otherwise, on the contrary.

Further examples

e.g. because, for instance, since, for example, so that, despite the fact that, accordingly, although, if, though, unless.

Connecting devices
introducing evidence
According to recent statistics…

This assumption/ argument is reinforced by…

Recent reports state that…

This correlation can be seen in evidence cited in…

Introducing Evidence
This revisits the main points of your essay, reminding the reader of the view expressed earlier. In summarising the main points of your discussion you should look for fresh wording which does not simply repeat the vocabulary of your introduction.

A good knowledge of synonyms helps here. On no account introduce new material. The reader should be left feeling the topic has been credibly and authoritatively explored.